18 December, 2023

Jorja Clode shooting for the stars

Horsham netballer Jorja Clode has progressed to the third and final stage of the 17u 2024 Victorian State Squad Selection trials.

By Chris Graetz

Jorja proudly wearing her Horsham Saints shirt at Coughlin Park on Saturday.
Jorja proudly wearing her Horsham Saints shirt at Coughlin Park on Saturday.

The 16-year-old went through a talent academy and attended screening in October with over 100 netballers from around Victoria and was selected in the top 50 to attend the second stage, which was tryouts early December.

On December 3 and 10, there were two rounds of tryouts which featured warm-ups, skills sessions and game play where the 50 would be narrowed down to 25.

Clode was successful and has now entered the final stage. Of the 25, only five from last year's squad are present.

This next stage includes two rounds of tryouts on January 20 and 21 and then match simulation on January 28 where the final squad will be selected. She is competing for the goal attack position.

Clode said it's exciting and that she is looking forward to the experience.

"It's exciting to get to this stage. There will be fitness training as well as skills training," she said.

"They also want to see how you go overnight and how you interact with the other girls. After that, there is a game where we play against each other.

"It is going to be tough, but I am grateful that I have been given this opportunity to showcase my skills."

Getting to this stage is a remarkable achievement and Clode said that whatever happens, she will learn a lot from the experience.

"I have a hard-working family, so I am grateful that my hard work is paying off," she said.

"It is a great opportunity just to play with girls at my level and learn from them as well as the coaches.

"I am going to gain a lot more experience and to be able to experience the top level of training is going to be invaluable."

When asked how far she thinks she could go and if she wanted to play for Australia one day, Clode said that she needs to keep working hard.

"You never know what can happen. I just need to keep training, keep working hard and take my shots," she said.

"Everyone would like to play for Australia and aim to get to the highest level we can. If I do get to that level I wouldn't give it a second thought.

"To get there I just need to keep putting in the hard work and see where it takes me."

This year was a very busy and successful year for Clode. She won the under-17 Wimmera Football Netball League best and fairest whilst scoring 449 goals in 13 games. She was also the leading goalscorer in A-Grade with an amazing 751 goals in 15 games. That feat rewarded her the position of goal shooter in the team of the year.

During the week she also traveled to Melbourne where she played for Melbourne University Lightning, 'Bolts 2' team. The team is a junior development squad program for players with potential to progress to the Melbourne University Lightning under-19 team.

Clode said that her mum, Deidre, has been instrumental in getting to her where she is now.

"Mum has put in a lot of time and faith in me," she said.

"She drives me everywhere, and we have driven to Melbourne probably about 50 times this year.

"It is good to have the support of mum because I wouldn't be here if I didn't have her as she keeps me organised and supports me well."

This year Clode was in year 11 and next year it will be her final year of VCE and when asked if it's difficult juggling school and her netball, she explained that it's about balance.

"It's all about balancing everything right," she said.

"It's about using my time wisely and doing homework whilst in the car traveling and using the study periods at school productively.

"It is also about open communication with my teachers about what is going on with my netball and where I am at."

Jorja has also been selected as a training partner for the Bendigo Strikers under-23 netball team - a new team in the Victorian Netball League (VNL) for 2024. Clode said it's an exciting opportunity.

"I am looking forward to that new environment and opportunity," she said.

"The VNL is the highest netball league in Victoria and I am happy to be a training partner and I am excited to play against good calibre players at a high standard, especially older girls."


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